Typically characterized by scantily clad go-go dancers on floats, pop music headliners and a drunken weekend for Angelenos and tourists alike, L.A. Pride is fast approaching. But instead of mimicking the celebrations of years past, L.A. Pride 2017 is taking on a different tone altogether. This year the annual parade through West Hollywood is getting a remodel, becoming the #ResistMarch.
Inspired by the nation’s very first Pride event in 1970 — which also took place on the streets of L.A. — and the recent women’s marches, “The #ResistMarch is to send a clear message that we will resist being divided from each other,” says organizer Brian Pendleton.
Under the current administration, resistance has become nothing less than an art form, and how different individuals “resist” is as diverse as the LGBTQ community itself. Leading up to this weekend’s march, it’s a notion that led us to ask six gay men — each of whom calls the city of Los Angeles home — “How do you #resist?”
1. John D’Amico
I resist by persisting. There are options and solutions and time. We need to invent the world we want to live in, or someone else will invent it for us.
D’Amico has served as a West Hollywood City Councilmember since 2011 (also as the city’s mayor in 2014-2015) and just celebrated 25 years with his husband, Keith Rand. He moved to L.A. in 1981 to attend CalARTS and has a masters degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning and Aesthetics and Politics. He also manages new building design and construction at UCLA.
2. Mario Diaz
The persecution and marginalization of the LGBT community is nothing new to my generation. The moment you think there’s been progress, we find ourselves here again, our rights being taken away, our safety at risk. I’m no stranger to this kind of oppression, and frankly I shine in the face of injustice.
I’ve always considered my expression to be political in its unapologetic, in-your-face, overt faggotry. I put gay sexuality on display in my work with a sense of celebration, joy, style and a little humor — to help dispel some of the shame we carry with us due to societal burdens. I’ve been fighting my whole life, but now we have an even greater army of resisters, young and old.
There are so many issues to stand up to that our heads are spinning. Where do we begin? What will make a difference? Sometimes it’s so emotionally exhausting that all we want to do is bury our heads in a bucket of ice cream and go to sleep ’til it’s all over.
We need to stay strong and keep standing up to this administration by marching in the streets, with phone calls to our lawmakers, by making donations, holding fundraisers, sending emails, town hall visits. There may be times when you need a break. ‘Resistance burnout’ is a real thing, and there is a looming sense of mass depression that is starting to reveal itself.
At the risk of sounding like a “snowflake,” it can feel hopeless at times. But every bit helps, and we can’t give up. We must make our voices heard loud and clear. And we must send as much support as possible to those on the front lines of the struggle for liberation. Going to the women’s march and sending a couple emails is great, but the trick is to continue the efforts. It can be daunting, but we must find a way to make it fun and keep up the work. So focus on a couple of issues important to you, get a bottle of tequila and have a Congress calling party. Make your resistance fun. No pressure, but if you don’t we’re all doomed.
Diaz has lived in L.A. for 15 years and is well-known as one of the city’s leading event producers and nightlife promoters. His parties Big Fat Dick (Thursdays at Fubar) and Full Frontal Disco (monthly at Akbar) are bastions of the city’s nightlife scene. He also works as an actor and has been featured in numerous commercials, films and television shows. Follow him on Twitter @mariodiaz.
3. Jim Key
I’m very fortunate in that I work for one of the leading organizations fighting attempts to rollback rights and protections for LGBT people and to prevent cuts in funding for programs that care for our most vulnerable. Partnering with other progressive and civil rights organizations — and LGBT centers throughout the country — we’re building awareness of the threats to our community and mobilizing people to take action. The stakes for our community have never felt higher, so the work is draining, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.
Key was born and raised in SoCal and has lived in L.A. for more than 20 years. He’s the chief marketing officer of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the world’s largest provider of programs and services for our community. Follow him on Twitter @jamesdkey.
4. Alex Garner
At Hornet, we work to provide our community of users with as much information as possible so they can make informed decisions about their health. Knowledge is power, after all, and fostering an environment where gay men are empowered and affirmed strengthens our community so that we can resist tyrants and bullies. So many in the LGBT community have been erased and silenced, and those of us who have a voice — who can stand up and speak out — must do so with strength, clarity and passion.
Garner is the Senior Health Innovation Strategist for Hornet, the world’s premier gay social network. He grew up in Southern California and has lived in West Hollywood for over 16 years, with a brief three-year stint in Washington, D.C.
5. Thomas Davis
I resist by living my truth regardless of the potential consequences. As long as I’m honest and stand strong, even when I’m filled with fear, I can be at peace knowing I’ve been my authentic self. I resist by refusing to live a secret life. A clear conscience can be one of the most freeing feelings. I resist by changing the way others see HIV by doing the unexpected and turning what people think they know on its head.
Davis has lived in Los Angeles for seven years, where he works on a research project for The Adolescent Trials Network at UCLA aiming to normalize HIV and STI testing and treatment among young people aged 12 to 24.
6. Michael Che
I’ve recently organized four protest sign-making workshops as part of the City of West Hollywood’s One City One Pride. These workshops allow people to bond in a shared space while channeling their feelings into creative, fun and witty signs.
Che has lived in L.A. for a decade and works for the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts Division.
7. Jackie Beat
How do I resist? The number one thing I do — or refuse to do, rather — is pretend that this shit is normal. It’s not. So that fuels everything I do. This is not merely a case of “your candidate didn’t win, get over it.” This is about an unqualified, dangerous, impulsive, egotistical douchebag representing the most powerful country on the planet. This is about a grown-ass man tweeting like a 12-year-old girl about world affairs and national policy.
I’ve been touring with the Drag Queens of Comedy and I sing a song that rips Trump a new one, while wearing an American flag dress. That is how I resist. In Chicago, I asked if anyone in the audience had voted for Trump, and an Imperial Court-style drag queen in her late 50s or early 60s, dripping with rhinestones and wearing a tiara, proudly raised her white-gloved hand. During my song she made a very big deal of being outraged and getting up and storming out. To which I say, FUCK YOU!
Even if Trump was a lovely man — which he’s clearly not — he chose an infamously anti-LGBTQ person to be his Vice President. That alone should be enough to stop supporting him. But many people, especially those around a certain age, consider their bank account more important than basic human rights. I’ve had other drag queens tell me to “tone it down” and “dial it back,” and I get it. People just want to escape from the hideous reality that we are living in. But, like I said, I cannot and will not pretend this shit is normal.
So, if you voted for Trump and/or you support him and you think you should be able to enjoy being entertained by the very people he is systematically stripping of their rights and putting in real danger, no. Leave. Go to a fucking Ted Nugent concert, you self-hating moron.
Oh, and please don’t think that all I sing or talk about is politics these days. Oh no! It’s still very important for me — especially in these Drag Race days of all-ages drag shows and family-friendly Pride celebrations — to sing loudly and proudly about sucking cock, too.
Alright, I’m stepping down from my soapbox now. Even in these three-inch Comfort Plus heels, my feet are killing me.
Jackie Beat is a legendary drag queen who has been offending audiences for over 28 years. She has also written for legends like Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, Sandra Bernhard, Margaret Cho, Ross Mathews and countless Drag Race queens. Jackie lives in Altadena with her dogs, Miss Toni & Darlin. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jackiebeat.
Featured image by serts via iStock